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02-14-2019 Letters and Commentary

Correction In the February 7, 2019 issue of Tri-City Record, an error was made on Page 10 in the cutline for the photo of a Watervliet Elementary basketball player. The player was identified as Hanson Layer. The player’s name is Bryce Strong. Tri-City Record is sorry for any inconvenience or confusion this error may have caused.

Proposed medical marijuana rule changes reduce application fee, eliminate other fees The Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) announced the drafting of new administrative rules for the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA). The proposed rules will lower the registry card application fee by 33 percent while eliminating fees associated with processing, updating, and replacing marijuana registry identification cards. “Our team has worked hard to streamline the process for medical marijuana cardholders in Michigan,” said LARA Director Orlene Hawks. “The proposed updated rules will dramatically lower the costs associated with medical marijuana registry cards for Michigan residents.” The MMMA was passed by Michigan voters in 2008 and authorizes the medical use of marijuana for qualifying patients and provides for the issuance of registry identification cards to qualifying patients and their caregivers, if applicable. A public hearing will be held in the next few months to receive public input on the proposed MMMA administrative rules. Highlights of the proposed rule changes are as follows: Reduce the patient application fee from $60.00 to $40.00; eliminate the $25.00 caregiver criminal background check processing fee; eliminate the $10.00 fee to update the name or address on a registry card or to add a caregiver or request a replacement card; increase the renewal period for patients from 60 to 90 days; include email as a method by which staff from the Michigan Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) will contact a patient, caregiver, or physician to verify the information provided on an application or supporting documentation; include a provision that authorizes patients to change the person designated to be in possession of the plants. The proposed rule changes come shortly after Bureau of Marijuana Regulation expanded the MMMP online processes to include more services for Michigan’s medical marijuana patients. The following actions are now available online: Medical marijuana patients without a caregiver can apply for medical marijuana registry identification cards, can check the status of their applications, and can renew their medical marijuana registry identification cards. (These services are available for patients whose physician has registered for an online account.); current patients without a caregiver can update their name and/or address, and request replacement cards; current patients can remove their caregiver and/or withdraw from the MMMP.

Michigan Attorney General signs multi-state letter supporting FTC Identity Theft Rules Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined the Oregon Attorney General and a coalition of 29 other Attorneys General who sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Feb. 11, 2019 urging the FTC to continue its Identity Theft Rules. The letter cites the proliferation of identity theft in many states, and the growth in technology since the rules were adopted in November 2007. The current rules require certain financial institutions and businesses that grant credit or issue debit or credit cards to take steps to detect, prevent and mitigate identify theft by implementing reasonable safeguards. The letter also suggests adding a requirement that cardholder must be notified by email or cell phone if an email address or cell phone number is changed. This is in addition to the existing requirement to mail notification upon change of account address. The Attorneys General also ask that suspicious account activity also include account access by new and previously unknown devices and repeated unsuccessful access attempts. “These rules appropriately focus on detecting, preventing and mitigating identity theft and are especially important to Michiganders because, unlike many states, Michigan does not have a data protection statute,” said Nessel. “We must do all we can to protect the data of Michigan residents and businesses.”

Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society to discuss future of organization The Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society will open its 2019 season on Monday, Feb. 25, with a program entitled “VBRGS – Looking to the Future.” The meeting will be held at the Van Buren Conference Center located at 490 S. Paw Paw St. in Lawrence, and will begin at 7:00 p.m. This meeting will consist of an informal discussion on the future of VBRGS and how they can better serve the genealogical community of Southwest Michigan. This meeting is free and open to the public. The purpose of the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society is to preserve and promote the research and study of genealogy and family and local history in the counties of Allegan, Berrien, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren. The VBRGS welcomes anyone who has an interest in genealogy and local history and they offer help and encouragement to all researchers. For more information on the society, please visit their website at or email them at They are also on Facebook at VBRGS Southwest Michigan Genealogy. If the meeting is cancelled due to weather, an announcement will be made on their Facebook page as well as through email to their members and friends.

Advocate volunteers urgently needed, training scheduled for March The Sexual Assault Response Team in Berrien County is currently seeking advocate volunteers to assist specially-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) in providing around-the-clock care to sexual assault survivors. Advocates help begin the healing process and give survivors the support they need to live full, satisfying lives. Advocate volunteers must successfully complete a comprehensive four-day training program to ensure they’re properly equipped to work with sexual assault survivors. The next training session will be held March 2, 3, 9, and 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at The Avenue Family Network Inc., located at 2450 M-139 Suite A, in Benton Harbor. Applications are due by Monday, February 25 in order to attend. “The Sexual Assault Response Team in Berrien County consists of counselors, social workers, law enforcement officials, physicians, SANE nurses, the Cora Lamping Center, and the Children’s Advocacy Center – all who are committed to helping survivors and end sexual abuse in Southwest Michigan,” said Alyssa Pliml, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P/AVAS Coordinator, Lakeland Health. “ Advocate volunteers must be able to serve for a minimum of 24 hours per month (six hours per week). On-call shifts will be assigned on a rotational basis, and volunteers who are “on-call” must respond if a call occurs during their shift. For more information or to obtain an application, call (269) 687-1880, email or visit

Where is love? The Broadway musical “Oliver” gave us some songs about love and family, including “Where is Love” and “Consider Yourself at Home”. A story about nineteenth and early twentieth century street life in London, the main character is a young boy named Oliver. Oliver is learning about life in the context of a gang of juvenile delinquents who are organized in a pick-pocket and theft ring overseen by one “Fagan”. The story is touching because it shows the universal need for love and relationships even in an otherwise cruel world where realities of survival dominate existence. The theme can be applied in any generation and in any economic situation. Progression of evil in any society, leads to a regression of love and meaningful relationships. Jesus, speaking of the ‘last times’ predicted, “Because iniquity will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 12:24, MEV) Sin will cause people to lose their capacity to truly love. The resulting emptiness creates a vacuum that we discover is not easily filled. The hunger for love and meaningful relationships remains the same, but when we seek it only in ourselves and only in our selfish idols, it proves fake and unfulfilling. The disappointment produces anger. The anger produces hardness. It is a downward spiral of selfishness. I Corinthians 13:1-4 describes true love. “Love is patient; love is kind. It is not envious. Love does not brag; it is not puffed up. It is not rude; it is not self-serving; it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” (MET) How well do we measure up? We may not be able to change society, but we can own our own attitudes and behavior. And we can show those around us where to find love.

Get your Social Security Benefit Statement (SSA-1099) Tax season is here, and Social Security has made replacing your annual Benefit Statement, also known as the SSA-1099 or the SSA-1042S, even easier. Now you can get a copy of your 1099 anytime and anywhere you want using our online services. A Social Security 1099 is a tax form Social Security mails each year in January to people who receive Social Security benefits. It shows the total amount of benefits you received from Social Security in the previous year so you know how much Social Security income to report to the IRS on your tax return. If you live in the United States and you need a replacement form SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S, simply go online and request an instant, printable replacement form through your personal my Social Security account at A replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S is available for the previous tax year after February 1. If you already have a “my Social Security” account, you can log in to your online account to view and print your SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S. If you don’t have access to a printer, you can save the document on your computer or laptop or even email it. If you don’t have a “my Social Security” account, creating one is very easy to do and usually takes less than 10 minutes. If you receive benefits or have Medicare, your “my Social Security” account is also the best way to: Get your benefit verification letter; check your benefit and payment information; change your address and phone number; change your direct deposit information; request a replacement Medicare card; or report your wages if you work and receive Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. If you’re a noncitizen who lives outside of the United States and you received or repaid Social Security benefits last year, we will send you form SSA-1042S in the mail. The forms SSA-1099 and SSA-1042S are not available for people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). With a personal my Social Security account, you can do much of your business with us online, on your time, like get a copy of your SSA-1099 form. Visit to find out more. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at

HELPING THE HOMELESS… The recent “polar vortex” and the rest of typical Michigan winter brought up an interesting discussion. While the Tri-City area’s handling disaster is exemplary, preparation to assist those most vulnerable to the weather, our elderly, special needs and homeless that are not already being cared for don’t have anywhere to go for food and shelter in the Tri-City area. Managing Editor Amy Loshbough commented she had asked on Facebook for the locations of any shelters in the Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet area. While she got a lot of responses, all of them said although there were shelters in the South Haven and Benton Harbor area, there were none in the Tri-Cities. She talked to some local emergency responders and they confirmed there were not any local shelters set up in advance for such emergencies. Watervliet Fire Chief Dan Jones told us the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Watervliet in the past had provided shelter in the church hall for travelers stranded by weather, but as far as he knows there was no community shelter plan in place. That is a bit surprising because the good folks in the Tri-City area dig deep, and often, into their pocketbooks to help those in need. At the same time, it is human we get complacent when those that need help are being taken care of. Sadly, others go unaided when their need may be the greatest. Hopefully this column sparks some local discussion on the need for an emergency shelter plan that is activated by the threat of serious weather.

HAPPY VALENTINES’ DAY… I hope this lovely holiday finds you in the arms of your one, true love. If you need a Valentine’s gift idea, check the gift guide in this week’s issue for some last-minute suggestions. Congratulations to Diane Larson, our Valentine’s Letter contest winner and thanks to the other entrants and the gift sponsors.

MONSTER UPDATE… A handful of readers caught my confusion here last week when I wrote about “panther” / mountain lion sightings, when I should have written “cougar” / mountain lion sightings. Larry Blyly was kind enough to ignore my stupidity but did point out I missed writing about the “Rush Lake Monster”: Karl, Read your “column” with quite special interest. Not very many of “us” left that remember the Rush Lake Monster. I consulted the Day Spring Archives, typed in “Rush Lake Monster” and got 12 “hits.” Some quite interesting ones… the earliest one being 1936, and the latest 1964! Just thought you should know. I could give you the address, but I would assume you have it. If not, it is at the bottom of the Hartford Library website. I suppose there could be many more “lake monsters” that we haven’t heard of. Larry Blyly Thanks Larry, I did read some of the clips in the Day Spring archives. I’ll keep an eye out this spring when I fish Rush Lake; hopefully I’ll hook a monster bass!


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